May 28, 2011

Reflections: On Memorial Day, meshing reality and ideals


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REFLECTIONS is a column written by members of Maine’s faith-based community. Opinions expressed in the column reflect the author’s view and not necessarily that of the newspaper.

And while I, on the other hand, took the conceptual approach, pinning my speech on the ideal itself, I did so in order to emphasize the importance of observing our Memorial Day traditions. For without the observance, the ideal would fade from memory. Yet without the ideal, the tradition is empty.

Christ said: "It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life" (John 6:63).

He's pointing out, of course, that -- while our flesh and blood dimension is essential -- it's also pretty transitory; useless for purposes of giving us life with any true scope.

It's the spirit, such as the concept of liberty that we Americans embrace, that survives the body. Anyone who's lost a loved one can testify to that; those folks stay with us, in spirit, for a very long time.

Of course, the cost of having a spirit that transcends human life is death. If we may invoke another holiday, we Americans still have "the spirit of '76" only because patriots gave their lives for the ideal of liberty.

Loss of human life is heartrending. But our failure to honor and uphold the ideals for which soldiers have died and are dying would be tragic.

So we remember. We remember by observing Memorial Day, so they do not die in vain. 

The Rev. Dan Lakeman is minister emeritus of West Gorham Union Church. He and his wife, Faye, live in Windham.


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